So ... what is permaculture?
The primary theory of permaculture is to build ecological systems, which are modeled on nature, to assist people, farms or communities to become more self reliant through sustainable gardens and farms.
The phase 1 class covering the Introduction to Forest Farming was led by Zev Friedman, of Living Systems Design (Marshall, NC) during June, 2012.
In partnership with the Town of Marshall and the GIST program at ABTech Enka, this class provided participants with a wealth of background information and resources on practical forest cropping techniques, as well as hands-on experience with installation of a demonstration forest garden on the grounds of the Marshall Library.
An overview was provided of the most promising plant, fungal and animal crops to grow in forest systems; an introduction to ecological design principles for deciding which crops to grow together on a given piece of land; techniques for managing forest farms over time for multiple yields from foods, medicines and fiber to building and craft materials, charcoal and even electricity; and, an exploration of different “guilds”, or groups of companion crops, to work with in different situations.
The second part of the class was devoted to hands-on work, mostly the installation of a demonstration forest garden on the grounds of the Marshall Library. Review of the Master Plan for the demonstration forest garden, gave participants an understanding about why certain design choices were made. Permaculture techniques were used to install the first phase of the forest garden. These techniques include inter-planting strategies for improved soil nutrition and pest and disease mitigation, as well as strategies for reducing weed pressure and increasing drought resilience.
Next time you visit the library, take a walk through the structure of the forest farm demonstration project. The paths are there. You can see how the garden was designed, taking into consideration the flow of the land. You can see the berms built up off the edge of the paths. This slows down water, allowing more time for the water to seep into the soil. Did you notice that there are several layers of cardboard below the mulch. This keeps the weeds from coming through, while being cost effective and keeping waste out of the landfill.
Now that the basic structure of the project has been installed. Next will come the understory plants and groundcovers in Fall of 2013.
See the master plan for the Forest Farming Demonstration garden...
An upcoming class in September, 2012 will review the basics as well as install phase 3 in the Forest Farm demonstration garden. Also replacement of some plants that did not survive the heat of last summer. There will be some weeding to be done as well as refinements.